About a third of the world's cetacean species (27 to be exact) can be seen in the Santa Barbara Channel. In July and August, humpback and blue whales feed off the north shore of Santa Rosa. From late December through March, up to 10,000 gray whales pass through the Santa Barbara Channel on their way from Alaska to Mexico and back again, and on a whale-watching trip during this time frame, you should see one or more of them. Other types of whales, but fewer in number, swim the channel June through August.
Island Packers. Depending on the season, you can take a three-hour tour or an all-day tour from either Ventura or Channel Islands harbors with Island Packers. From January through March you're almost guaranteed to see gray whales in the channel. 1691 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura, California, 93001. 805/642–1393; www.islandpackers.com. From $37.